Eric Swanson Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past 18 years, attorney Lori (Loman) Jackson has handled divorces, custody disputes, real estate transactions and other civil cases.
Now, Jackson is hoping to apply her experience on the bench.
Jackson, 53, is one of three candidates running for associate district judge this year. She is competing against Preston Draper and Heather H. Wright for the right to replace Associate District Judge Martha Kilgore, who is retiring in June.
The primary election is June 24. If necessary, the November general election will determine who replaces Kilgore. The winner will take office in January 2015.
Jackson is a graduate of East Central University, where she earned a degree in psychology with a minor in legal studies. She went on to earn her law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Jackson worked for Pre-Paid Legal Services for 10 years before graduating from law school. After passing the bar exam, she opened her own law practice in 1995.
Jackson has served as president of the Pontotoc County Bar Association and as a board member for the local Court Appointed Special Advocates organization. She currently serves on the advisory board for ECU’s legal studies department.
The Ada News interviewed Jackson last week about her decision to run, her skills and other issues. Here are questions and answers from the interview, edited for clarity and length.
The Ada News: Why did you decide to run?
Lori Jackson: I’ve been in practice for 18 years as a sole practitioner, and for many years I have thought about what a privilege it would be to serve as a judge.
And Pontotoc County is basically my home county, so this is where I wanted to serve.
I actually had not considered filing for this election period until Judge Kilgore announced her retirement.
TAN: So you decided to run when Judge Kilgore announced her retirement?
LJ: Yes. t had always been my plan to run at some point in time, and this basically just presented an opening.
TAN: What do you feel makes a good district judge?
LJ: I think definitely honesty and ethics to start with, because even though a judge is to make impartial decisions and apply the law to the facts, the judge is still a person. And you have to look at the quality of the person that’s filling the candidacy.
So I think honesty, integrity. A good bit of fortitude, because decisions are going to be tough from time to time. It’s not always going to be the easiest or most popular.
I think also that, having been a sole practitioner for 18 years, I’ve developed the fortitude necessary to be the judge. I’ve had nobody to rely on but myself, basically, except some good friends who are lawyers who have given advice from time to time. But I’ve learned to stand on my own two feet.
I’m independent — always have been, even before law school ever entered my mind. I think that, also, would lend itself to being able to serve in the capacity of any judge, whether it’s district or associate or special.
TAN: Of those characteristics, which do you think is the most important? Why?
LJ: I think the ability to be impartial and to assess the facts, however they are presented. To see all sides of the situation and then to have the ability to apply the law to the facts.
In law school, they taught us to use a formula. It’s an acronym, and it’s called IRAC. It stands for “issues, rule, analysis, conclusion,” and I think that’s what a judge also would use when looking at facts as presented and making a ruling. You have to discern the issues, find the rule of law that applies, analyze the situation and draw a conclusion.
TAN: What skills have you gained that would make you an effective judge?
LJ: I’m not sure if I’m answering the question as you intend it. But my answer to that would be having been a sole practitioner for that number of years, primarily in the field of general civil law, I have done all kinds of cases. Probates, adoptions, divorce and custody kinds of cases. Real estate transactions. Just a wide variety.
So I’ve been exposed to a lot of circumstances. In each of those circumstances, I had to look at the facts, determine what’s best for my client within the confines of the law and present the case in that fashion. So I think that, over a period of 18 years, has given me a really good perspective into the types of cases that I would be overseeing as an associate district judge.
TAN: As an associate district judge, would you be handling al types of cases, civil and criminal?
LJ: As it is today — I don’t know if the assignment of cases will change in the future, but as it is today — the associate district judge handles that type that I just explained of civil cases, and generally not any criminal.
That position — and I’m referring to the associate district judge — does things like deprived and neglected child cases, delinquent child cases, mental health court. I believe also juvenile drug court, as well as the divorces and custody and probates and those types of general things that come before a judge.
So if the division of cases were to stay the same, then I think what I have done so far has made me very experienced in all of those areas and able to take it on as a judge rather than an attorney.
Reach Eric Swanson at email@example.com.